Dean Kelly scored for the second match running as Shelbourne came from behind to take a point in a 1-1 draw against Bray in their Airtricity League Premier Division basement battle at the Carlisle Grounds.
As he did when scoring the winner on the opening day of the season, Jason Byrne’s goal early in the second half looked to be enough to give Bray a third victory of the season over his former club, and a first win in seven league games.
But a foul by Bray right-back Eoin Hyland on Adam Hanlon allowed Shelbourne back into the game on 76 minutes. Sean Brennan’s free kick was met at the near post by Kelly who flashed a header past 'keeper Darren Quigley.
On the balance of the 90 minutes, neither side could have much complaint with the result which moves both clubs two points above Bohemians at the foot of the table.
Shelbourne should have brought an end to a disjointed opening to the game by taking a 12th minute lead. Kelly dinked a ball through for the run of Brennan, but Quigley read the situation well, coming off his line promptly to save at the winger’s feet.
Bray were having to work hard defensively as Shelbourne’s directness had them in on goal again on 25 minutes. This time Hanlon got in behind onto Brian Shortall’s diagonal ball with Niall Cooney having to get across sharply to take the ball off the striker’s toe for a corner.
But it was Bray who might have been in front by the interval as their two veterans combined well on 42 minutes.
A delightful ball over the top from midfielder Gary Dempsey was exquisitely controlled by Byrne. The striker’s shot lacked power though, and was also directed straight at Shelbourne’s well-positioned ‘keeper Lee Murphy.
Then, in stoppage time, a poor defensive clearance gifted the ball to Dean Zambra, but the Bray midfielder drilled his snap shot wide.
Having missed that earlier chance, Byrne quickly rediscovered his scoring touch within five minutes of the second half to give Bray the lead. Zambra’s free kick on the right was helped on by John Mulroy and Byrne swept the ball home at the near post for his 12th league goal of the season.
Bray then twice came close to doubling their lead. First Murphy went full stretch to turn the ball round a post following Kieran Marty Waters’ surging run and shot.
The woodwork then saved Shels from Zambra’s resulting corner when the ball came off the outside of a post having struck Bray defender Cooney on the knee.
But Shels hung on to extend their unbeaten league run to five games.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Eoin Hyland, Dave Webster, Niall Cooney, Conor Early; Dean Zambra, Gary Dempsey (Sean Noble 85), Kevin O’Connor, John Mulroy (Ismahil Akinade 85); Marty Waters; Jason Byrne.
Shelbourne: Lee Murphy; Brian Shortall (Robert Cornwall 71), Ian Ryan, Graham Gartland, Pat Flynn; Sean Brennan, Glenn Cronin, Stephen Hurley (Brian Gannon 71), Derek Doyle (Paul Andrews 85); Adam Hanlon, Dean Kelly.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).